Russia has expressed optimism that President Joe Biden will extend the bilateral arms control treaty set to expire in the days ahead.
According to Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, the administration “will seek to extend” the New START treaty, also known as START-3. The agreement, signed in 2010, prevents both Russia and the United States from deploying more than 1,550 nuclear warheads and restricts the missiles and bombers that can deliver them. It is expected to expire on Feb. 5, due to concerns that the two countries will not arrive at an agreement.
The terms of the new treaty, if extended, would lengthen the deadline by five additional years and require the Kremlin and the new Biden administration to come to a mutual agreement.
"He'll have to make a decision as president about what duration he would seek," Blinken said on Tuesday, according to Newsweek.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov echoed his remarks and welcomed the possibility of an extension. "Russia and the president of Russia have consistently advocated the preservation of this most important cornerstone document from the point of view of global strategic stability and security," he said.
The Biden administration has already been urged by almost three-dozen U.S. arms control experts to agree to a full five-year extension, without conditions. The extension of the agreement would rebuild diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, proponents argue.
Writing in Russian news agency Tass, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, who signed the treaty in 2010 as president, expressed optimism over the deal. However, he accused Biden of expressing “harsh, even aggressive” language towards the Russian government.
Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev described the tense relationship between the two countries as a “great concern” and noted that the extension of the agreement would help to cool relations.
"It is necessary to extend New START, and this is real, the more so since Biden advocated this during his election campaign," said Gorbachev, who added that it was necessary for “stability and control” for the two countries to arrive at a consensus.